by Tony Guthrie
In the fast-paced world of business (which is getting much faster due to technological advancement) remaining viable is of major consideration. And let’s face it; employers often see those of us over 50 as not quite on the cutting edge of innovation, creativity, and efficient time management. Why? Because we act as though we miss the “days of old.” Us “older folk” must come to realize a few things. Smart phones are getting smarter. IPADS are becoming business central. Paper resumes, although still existent, are giving way to various innovative ways to show our stuff to human resource executives. It’s no longer about our “credentials, experience, and education” as much as it is about what “value” we bring to the company. It’s not, “let me tell you about me” as much as it is “let me tell you how my experience can benefit the firm.” Narrative resumes, video resumes, blogs, and professional “resume” websites are becoming the new norm. And the excuse, “well, I don’t know how to create a blog” is both an amplification and an announcement of the way employers see you: not viable.
“Change we can believe in” is not only an effective political phrase, it is also a philosophy we over 50 must embrace. And we do fight change, don’t we? We like the comfort zone. “Hey, don’t muddy the water with all this new-fangled gadgetry” is something many of us might say. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix” is a death-nail cliché in modern industry. Change, invention, re-invention, creativity, digital productivity, I-technology, etc, are where it is babe.
And to be viable and productive means to be “in the know” about these, and countless other, matters.
I work in a university setting. In the last decade we decided to make all of our degree programs available completely online. Why? Because all indicators revealed that online learning was the future. Our enrollment immediately increased dramatically. Our professors (most of whom were over 50) hated the fact that their reality of traditional classroom teaching was going the way of all flesh. They balked at the idea of video lectures, discussion boards, digital communication, online test-taking, using blogs for instructional purposes, and more. The educational wheel is in a state of evolution and it is in hyper-drive. Professors who wouldn’t engage the new educational reality are no longer with us. Put out to pasture to dream of the “good ole days.” They have been replaced with younger 30-somethings that will use the university-provided computer but next to it is their personal Mac, IPOD, IPAD, and smart phone. They get it.
And for those of us who see these things occurring need to “get it” as well. For some of us that’s where the rub is. How do I “get it?” Well, in a word (actually two words merged into one) YOUTUBE. Learn to love YouTube. Don’t know what LinkedIn is? Don’t know how to use it? What’s Skype? How do you do “face time?” Video email? Google +? Google hangouts? Apps? Upload this, download that? Yeesh, where is my trusty ledger?!!! If this is where you are then go to YouTube … NOW!
In the last year alone I have spent countless hours on YouTube getting free advice and knowledge 10 minutes at a time. I have learned about SEO (search engine optimization) for my websites and saved thousands of dollars getting my sites up in the rankings by doing it myself. I have learned web design, blogging, and video strategies. I know what an Alt Tag is now :-). I understand LinkedIn, FaceBook, and several other approaches to digital networking. I can speak the language of the business gen x-ers, y-ers, and whatever the next letter will be all because of YouTube. WhatEVER I need to know about anything is on YouTube. Do you need to learn about Excel? YouTube it.
If I need to know anything I just go to YouTube and ask. People, who have nothing better to do I guess, make videos about anything and everything. In 10 minutes I usually can pick up some meaningful and practical knowledge.
And this is especially important of you are unemployed. I get amazed at what 50-somethings do in the search process. They are remarkably old-school and don’t even realize it. They look for jobs online and submit resumes online and hope the phone rings. They don’t seem to realize that they are in competition with thousands of others. Go to YouTube and learn about using LinkedIn and other approaches to job search. Increase your knowledge incrementally about things related to the field in which you seek employment. Make YouTube your recliner snuggle-bunny!